Do culture and individual beliefs affect logical thinking? If so, how do they influence the conclusions we reach?

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The first question that must be asked before answering this question is: What exactly is logical thinking? Logical thinking is the process in which one uses reasoning consistently to come to a conclusion. If this definition is strictly followed, logical thinking cannot be affected by any outside influences as long as the premises are truly valid. For example the syllogism:

All mammals are warm blooded.

Whales are mammals.

Whales are warm blooded.

is truly logical because the major premise is true. In a more 'general world ' however, we refer to logical thinking as simply deducing a reasonable explanation or conclusion from what is already and personally known. What is personally known is often fallacious because of stereotypes, cultural taboos, and/or prejudices. Because of this, the premises used in reasoning are not always truly valid but are accepted as valid. This is what influences the conclusions that are reached; the premises which have been 'jaded ' by culture and individual beliefs.

There are many aspects to culture and all of them affect what is personally known and the way one makes decisions. These are mainly language, background (history), race, religion, individual beliefs, and even geography. Individual beliefs are an aspect of culture which are defined as being opinions and convictions. These are normally based on the other aspects of culture mentioned. For example a person who is a Unitarian would most likely have different beliefs about the roles of women in society than someone who is Evangelical. In this example, the individual belief concerning women was based on the code developed by the particular religion. Although religion is a very strong force in our society today, beliefs are also cultivated trough family, education, peers, and in many cases can be developed depending on the area and time period that a person lives in. (For example, my grandfather was greatly affected by the Great Depression and therefore believes strongly in



Bibliography: Abel, Reuben. Man is the Measure. New York: The Free Press, 1976. Allport, Gordon. The Nature of Prejudice. Massachusetts: Adison Wesley, 1984. Carr, Edward Hallett. What is History? New York: Vintage Books, 1961. Gould, Stephen Jay. The Mismeasure of Man. New York: Norton and Co., 1981.

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